But I was growing weary of the voice of the old impostor.
“Ever hear of Conan Doyle?” I asked.
“Now come to think of it, a drummer from Altoona left a paper copy of one of his books the last trip.”
A Post-Knickerbocker Petronius
A Post-Knickerbocker Petronius—The Early
Life of Mr. Ward McAllister—A
Discovery of Europe—A Glimpse of British High Life—The Judgment of a
Diplomat—The South and Newport—Organizing New York Society—The
“Four Hundred”—Maxims of a Master and Maitre d’Hotel.
He does not reign in Russia
Nor yet in far Cathay,
But o’er this town he’s come to hold
An undisputed sway.
When in their might the ladies
“To put the Despot down,”
As blandly as Ah Sin, he goes
His way without a frown.
Alas! though he’s but
He’s one too many still—
He’s fought the fight, he’s held his own,
And to the end he will.
—From a Lady after the Ball of February 25, 1884.
Mrs. Burton Harrison, in “Recollections, Grave and Gay,” told of a visit made in 1892 as one of a party of invited guests travelling by special train to the newly built Four Seasons Hotel at Cumberland Gap, in Tennessee, where the directors of a new land company and health-resort scheme had arranged a week of sports and entertainments. About forty congenial persons from New York and Washington made the trip, the mountaineers and their families along the route assembling at stations to see the notabilities among them. The chief attraction, Mrs. Harrison recorded, seemed to be Ward McAllister, who had been expected, but did not go. At one station, James Brown Potter, engaged in taking a constitutional to remove train stiffness, was pointed out by another of the party to a group of staring natives as the famous arbiter of New York fashion.
“I want to know!” said a gaunt mountain horseman. “Wal, I’ve rid fifteen miles a-purpus to see that dude McAllister, and I don’t begrutch it, not a mite.”
All over the land there were yokels and the spouses of yokels and even the children of yokels, moved by a like interest and curiosity; while rural visitors to New York, and also New Yorkers born for that matter—if such a person as a born New Yorker actually existed—craned their necks from the tops of the Fifth Avenue buses in the hope of catching a glimpse of the great man, who, for a brief, flitting moment was an institution of as much importance as the Obelisk or the Metropolitan Museum of Art.